About Mount Madonna Institute

Yoga and Ayurveda at Mount Madonna Center for over 40 years

Authentic Vedic Teachings in Ayurveda & Yoga Since 1978

Our sister organization, Mount Madonna Center, has been well-known for the integrity and excellence of its regularly offered Yoga and Ayurveda programs since 1978. Mount Madonna Institute emerged from that beginning and was officially formed in 2006 to formally train and graduate exceptional practitioners who meet modern standards of practice and education set by professional associations in the United States, including the Yoga Alliance and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.

History of Mount Madonna Institute

  1. 1971


    Baba Hari Dass (Babaji as he was affectionately called) was a living example of the kind heart, open mind, and productive life that the wisdom teachings of yoga and Ayurveda foster. He was a silent monk, accomplished author and artist, and master yogi who brought the ancient teachings to contemporary students in meaningful ways. He not only inspired Mount Madonna Center and Institute but also Mount Madonna School (PK-12th grade), Salt Spring Center of Yoga and Children's School in British Columbia, and Sri Ram Orphanage and School in Haridwar, India. Babaji passed away in 2018.

  2. 1974


    In 1974, that group formed the Hanuman Fellowship, taking the name of an ancient Indian deity representing service and devotion.

  3. 1978


    In 1978, the fellowship founded Mount Madonna Center, a 355-acre mountaintop property. From the very beginning, Baba Hari Dass taught not only Yoga, but also Ayurveda – and these were the first programs we offered, in the summer of 1978 – at the time a science of health and healing little known in the West. 

  4. 1982


    In the years that followed, a series of pioneers presented Ayurveda programs at Mount Madonna Center – first Babaji, then Dr. Trivedi, Dr. Svoboda, Dr. Lad, Dr. Singh, and Dr. Shrestha. One of the students in one of those first programs (1982) was Cynthia Ambika Copple, who went on to become our founding Dean of the College of Ayurveda. 

  5. 2005


    As the Center proved successful and grew, others also obtained Ayurveda training, and slowly a group came together of people deeply interested in starting a School of Ayurveda. In 2005, that group’s vision and energy were strong enough that the decision was made to form a new Institute, featuring a College of Ayurveda. Approvals were obtained, a substantial loan was borrowed, space was set aside for classes, and intense work began on developing curriculum, faculty, administration, logistics, a website, marketing, and an application to the State of California for approval to operate the Institute and its College of Ayurveda.

  6. 2007


    We received approval from the State of California, and, in January 2007, Mount Madonna Institute was approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs and admitted students to its first College of Ayurveda Diploma Program. Since that first class entered in 2007, we have graduated many classes of Diploma, Certificate (Practitioner), and Masters Degree students.

  7. 2015


    Mount Madonna Institute received Eligibility from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) to proceed with an application for Initial Accreditation!

  8. 2019


    Mount Madonna Institute earned accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

    The College of Ayurveda is also approved by the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association (NAMA) and Mount Madonna’s Yoga Teacher Training is approved by the national yoga registry, Yoga Alliance.

Mission Statement

Integrating Mind, Body & Spirit

Mount Madonna Institute is committed to holistic wellness and positive transformation. We offer graduate education and certificate programs that integrate ancient systems of Yoga and Ayurveda, within community, for contemporary life. Graduates are well prepared for careers in integrative health professions.

Mount Madonna Institute is a private, non-profit educational institution located in virgin redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Small class size and classic Vedic sources foster authentic student learning, integrating theoretical knowledge and experiential education. Distinguished faculty offer a Master’s degree and two certificate programs. Classical curriculum and clinical experience preserve and extend the 5,000 year old science of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest known system of natural medicine and healing systems. The classical system of Ashtanga Yoga, introduced into the West by Baba Hari Dass, informs both practice and philosophy taught by devoted resident faculty.

Mount Madonna Center offers guest services, both meals and lodging, for students. Situated on 380 acres of land, on a mountain top, the campus overlooks Monterrey Bay.

Mount Madonna Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional higher education accreditation body. The College of Ayurveda is approved by the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association (NAMA). Mount Madonna’s Yoga Teacher Training is approved by the national yoga registry, Yoga Alliance. Mount Madonna Institute is also affiliated with the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Mount Madonna Institute is also approved by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education.

Mount Madonna Institute Organization

In collaboration with Mount Madonna Institute Board leaders, faculty and staff work together to co-create shared vision and co-design transformative curricula.


President: Swarup Wood, PhD

Assistant to the President: Jen Rand, C-AP, MA-Ayurveda, RYT 500

Accreditation Liaison/Institutional Research Officer: Swarup Wood, PhD

Institutional Research Officer: Jen Rand, C-AP, MA-Ayurveda, RTY 500

Academic Affairs

Interim Chief Academic Officer: Kamalesh Ginger Hooven, MA Ayurveda, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT

Admissions/Registrar: Tiffany Olson, BA

Yoga Program Administrator: Lizzy Gamberdella RYT-500, Ayurvedic Practitioner

Program Administrator: Jāhnavī Dana Warsaw, R-YTT 500

Research Center Director: Shraddha Ravani, MA-Ayurveda


Chief Financial Officer: Shanti Cruddas, AA

Head Bookkeeper: Lila Ansell, BS

Accounts Payable: Jaya Maxon

Payroll: Anne Major

Human Resources: Tiffany Olson, BA

Bursar: Tiffany Olson, BA


Website Specialist: Jennifer Dove

Ayurveda World

Manager: Manorath David Wheeler, MA-Ayurveda


Manager: Mira Wood

MMI Board
  • Sarada Diffenbaugh, PhD, E-RYT 500, RCYT, Chair
  • Jennifer Rand, MA-Ayurveda, RYT 500, Secretary
  • Yolanda Sangita Diaz-Houston, PhD
  • John Dayanand Diffenbaugh, E-RYT 500
  • Anima Paula Holtz, PhD, RN, FNP
  • Timothy J. Walsh, JD
  • Ashoka Clayton Caroon, MA, RYT 200
  • Madhavi Nadendla, M. Tech
  • Sanjeev Kak, MBA
  • Satya Cathy Hutton, MBA, RYT 500
  • Mike Cairns, MBA

Announcement from Mount Madonna Institute

rucha kelkar

Mount Madonna Institute is honored to announce Dr. Rucha Kelkar, Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine, Physical Therapist, Doctor of Physical Therapy, as the new Chair of Ayurveda.

A well-known, long-time faculty member at Mount Madonna Institute, Dr. Kelkar is an accomplished clinician, educator, speaker and writer with over 23 years of experience. She is the founder and director of Ayurbliss, an Ayurveda, Physical Therapy, and Yoga Integrative Wellness Center based in San Mateo, CA. She has an extensive clinical knowledge base in Ayurveda and Physical Therapy. She also serves as one of the Board of Directors of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA).

Dr. Kelkar received her Doctor of Ayurveda degree from the University of Pune, India, and Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy from The College of St. Scholastica, MN. She holds certifications in Yoga and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy.

Dr. Kelkar has mentored students at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Integrative Medicine Clerkship and introduced Ayurveda to medical and pharmacy students at UC San Francisco (UCSF). In addition to being a published author and past researcher at UCSF, she serves as a Research Advisor to students at Mount Madonna Institute. She is revered by her students for her depth of knowledge and interactive teaching skills, and is loved for being easily approachable.

Recipient of the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America’s Vachaspati Award for excellence in Ayurvedic presentation, Dr. Kelkar presented at various national Ayurveda conferences over the past twenty three years.

Dr. Rucha Kelkar is an eminent ambassador of Ayurveda, teaching, practicing, supporting and promoting Ayurveda.

Announcement from Mount Madonna Institute

May 31, 2022

Mount Madonna Institute is proud to announce that Swarup Wood, Ph.D. has accepted the position of President effective immediately. Dr. Swarup has served as Interim President since September of 2021. During this past year, Swarup has brought clarity to MMI’s organizational and financial structures and has led with integrity and dedication.

The Board is delighted that he has accepted the role of President. We are confident that his continued leadership will successfully bring MMI out of the difficulties created by the prolonged pandemic, support MMI’s continued tradition of excellence, and create opportunities for MMI’s future thriving. As Dr. Swarup said in his letter to the Board,

“My commitment to MMI is to engage even more deeply than I have thus far, and work steadfastly together to move MMI in the direction of continuing to actualize Babaji’s legacy while paying our bills.”

As a young man, Dr. Swarup moved to the Land in early 1985 and soon took on the dump run, and painting in the unfinished kitchen, while living in the “naga den.” He remembers finishing and moving into the CB, and a runaway dump truck, as a few of the highlights that year. Intrigued by the pace of life and work at MMC, he asked Babaji why he encouraged such intensity. Babaji twinkled and wrote, “It gives the mind less time to think.” Swarup has kept the humor and wisdom of that exchange close to his heart. At Babaji’s urging, he started at Cabrillo College that summer and earned his doctorate in 1996 in Biology at UCSC. Nearly forty years later he is finishing a career as a Professor of Chemistry at California State University Monterey Bay, where he Coordinates First Year Seminar, and serves as Interim Director of General Education. His scholarship has focused on teaching, learning, and assessment.

Swarup Page 1 Image 0001

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Swarup in his full role as President. He will need all our committed support to fulfill his stated commitment to MMI. He and the Board invites the extended MMI community to welcome Dr. Swarup by email at swarup@mountmadonna.org and we look forward to welcoming everyone to an on-campus celebration as soon as it is possible for us to gather together

Academic Catalog

Find all program and course descriptions, calendar dates, admissions info, student's rights and responsibilities, and academic policies.

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Mount Madonna Center

Campus & Facilities

The Institute is located at and hosted by Mount Madonna Center's beautiful Conference and Retreat Center. The setting offers an ideal environment for learning and exploring within the context of a 40-year-old residential community dedicated to the principles and practice of Yoga. Students have the opportunity to directly connect, not only with residents, faculty, and other student body, but with the natural world that informs the foundations of Āyurveda and yoga philosophy.

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